Horses talk to those who listen. Sometimes they shout.
If Ironicus could have verbalized his feelings after his career debut late in his 2-year-old season, he likely would have yelled, “Try me on the turf!”
Fortunately, his connections got the message loud and clear when Ironicus trailed throughout in that Aqueduct maiden race on dirt. Racing exclusively on grass since then, he has a record of six wins and six seconds in 13 starts including the Bernard Baruch Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course last year.
Such a record brings lofty expectations, so it was predictable that he would be favored to win the Shadwell Mile Stakes (G1) at Keeneland Oct. 8 in his first start since being the runner-up in the Woodford Reserve Manhatten Stakes (G1) in June. With his powerful late charging style, the gray gained momentum through the stretch but missed by a head behind the Miss Temple City in the Shadwell. He returned to trainer Shug McGaughey’s Belmont Park base to train up to the Breeders’ Cup.
Despite his affinity for grass racing, Ironicus does all his conditioning on dirt.
“I never work him on the turf,” McGaughey said in September. “He works fine on the dirt and I'm not going to change.”